Monday, August 19, 2013

Military Monday - The Dreaded Telegram

My dad was drafted in 1943 and was an Army private during World War II. He was sent to Fort Gruber in Oklahoma for basic training before shipping out overseas. I wrote about some of his experiences in a previous post, A Wounded World War II Vet: Pfc Albert S. Pendleton, Jr.(1925-2006). While going through his papers after his death, I found the letters that he wrote to his family during the war. I also found the dreaded "regret to inform you" telegram that no one wants to receive during a war:

Telegram addressed to my grandmother Helen Brown Thomas Pendleton, dated November 29, 1944, to inform her that my dad had been seriously wounded.

I vaguely remember being told that my grandfather is the one who first got the news and had to go home and tell my grandmother. The envelope that contained the telegram has the family's home address written on it, but it also says "care A. S. Pendleton Co." which was the family business where my grandfather worked.  

This is the envelope the telegram was in. The date written on the envelope is in my dad's handwriting. He must have added that later.

The last letter I have that my dad wrote to his family before he was wounded was written three days before he was wounded--on November 6, 1944.  It made me wonder if his family had to wait 23 days from that last letter before they heard anything from or about him. Then I came across some newspaper clippings in my dad's papers.  Apparently the telegram was the first news his parents received.  Someone has written "Thurs Nov 30 1944" at the top of an article, probably from the Valdosta Daily Times, that says his parents had just gotten the news on Wednesday that he'd been seriously wounded and was in the hospital. I can't imagine having to wait that long in war time to find out where your loved one is and what has happened! I imagine that my grandfather's hands shook and his heart pounded as he was handed the telegram.  I can almost feel the dread washing over him as he read the first words "Regret to inform you..." Then he had to drive home to break the news to my grandmother about their young son.



  1. My dad recalled taking A. S. Pendleton several VA hospitals in the area. Granddaddy would hear of someone being in a nearby hospital that was in the same part of France as Albert and would go see him. He was trying to get information as the Army did not say much. I know one of the hospitals was in Thomasville, GA. Can't remember where any of the others were.

  2. Thanks for letting me know. I kept thinking while I was writing this post that I should ask you what your parents might have told you about what went on at home during this time. I imagine they were all desperate for news.